McInnes clear to play finals
McInnes clear to play finals

Fraser McInnes is free to help East Perth's bid to win the premiership after he was cleared of a rough-conduct charge at the WAFL Tribunal last night.

The young West Coast player was found not guilty over his late bump at Medibank Stadium on Saturday that knocked out Claremont opponent Brenden Abbott and left the forward suffering a broken ankle from his awkward landing.

McInnes was offered a two-match ban by the WAFL report review panel but opted to take the matter to the tribunal.

Under the tribunal sentencing guidelines, McInnes would have missed Sunday's second semifinal against Subiaco and the preliminary final or grand final if found guilty.

But chairman Alan Moroni accepted McInnes' evidence that he was running with the flight of the ball and braced for contact at the last moment.

"I was following the ball and only saw Abbott when it was too late to avoid contact," McInnes said.

"I braced for contact because I couldn't be a sitting duck but my feet never left the ground."

McInnes, 21, has played every match for East Perth this season and was delighted after the hearing but expressed sympathy for Abbott.

"I was always going for the footy," he said.

Perth defender Chris Billings will finish the season as he started it with a suspension for rough conduct after receiving a one-match ban at the tribunal.

It was Billings' third suspension this season after he was found guilty of rough conduct over a sling tackle on West Perth's Brayden Antonio at Lathlain Park on Saturday.

After an often-heated hearing in which Perth advocate Marty Atkins questioned the umpires over whether they targeted Billings because of his reputation as a vigorous player, Moroni found the tackle was dangerous.

Meanwhile, Cam Shepherd has been asked to explain his comments in the Peel coaches box at Fremantle Oval on Saturday after the neighbouring umpire observers lodged a complaint.

And Atkins, the Perth chief executive, and coach Trevor Williams will appear at a WAFL hearing on Thursday to appeal against fines issued for their comments about the umpiring in the recent match against East Perth.

The West Australian

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